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Dean Smith: ‘Villa have won the top trophy. Challenging in Europe has to be the aim’

Aston Villa manager on his five-year plan, what Jack Grealish asked for after England duty and the truth about the signings

Dean Smith did his job exceptionally well last season, his first in the Premier League in a managerial career that began at Walsall in 2011. Almost everything that could go wrong for Aston Villa did – including key injuries and chronic individual mistakes in a rapidly assembled squad – but Smith kept morale high and made shrewd use of the pandemic-enforced suspension to repair what had been the top-flight’s leakiest defence and, ultimately, pull clear of the drop.

Related: Emiliano Martínez joins Aston Villa from Arsenal in £20m deal

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